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South Korea’s Ambitious $1.5bn ‘Super Gap Startup 1000+ Project’ Set to Bolster the System Semiconductor Sector

The South Korean government’s flagship project to bolster emerging tech startups, dubbed the “Super Gap Startup 1000+ Project”, is set to offer considerable support to businesses in the system semiconductor sector, with 25 companies including AI semiconductor fabless Rebellion and automotive semiconductor fabless Boss Semiconductor, being spotlighted this year.

This initiative was unveiled at the ‘2023 1st Win-Win Forum: Exchanges between Seniors and Juniors in Fabless’ held at Seoul National University Faculty Hall on May 17. The forum provided a platform to introduce the businesses chosen for the government’s ambitious 2023 venture, as well as outlining the plan of support.

The Super Gap Startup 1000+ Project is an investment scheme aimed at fostering over a thousand promising startups within high-tech future industries over the next five years, with a total support budget of 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion). The initiative covers ten fields including system semiconductors, bio-health, future mobility, and robotics.

Overseeing the project for the system semiconductor industry is the Seoul National University System Semiconductor Industry Promotion Center. Lee Hyuk-jae, the centre’s director, pledged relentless assistance for domestic system semiconductor startups in collaboration with the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.

Newly designated ‘super-gap’ startups will be beneficiaries of free financial support up to 600 million won ($450,000), (up to 200 million won per year ($150,000)) for the next three years, alongside access to Arm IP and EDA tools essential for semiconductor development. Further backing will come in the form of subsidies for semiconductor prototype development and provision of professional consulting in marketing and technology.

Among the list of selected firms are AI semiconductor business Rebellion, AI infrastructure solution company More which recently partnered with KT, automotive semiconductor fabless Boss Semiconductor backed by Hyundai Motor Company, and SiC power semiconductor company Scenic.

Last year’s high achievers in the sector will also be given continued backing. These include semiconductor design platform company Semi-Five; SSD controller fabless firm Fado; Furiosa AI, which recently achieved mass production of its AI semiconductors; Qualitas Semiconductor; and SkyChips. These companies can look forward to up to 1 billion won ($750,000) (up to 500 million won per year) of financial support over the next two years.

In total, 25 new companies were selected as recipients for the ‘2023 Super Gap Startup 1000+ Project’ in the system semiconductor sector, while five companies – Semi-Five, Fado, Furiosa AI, Qualitas Semiconductor, and SkyChips – were singled out for continued support.

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